This weekend sees the biggest game in club soccer takes place. It is the Champions League final! It will be contested between Chelsea and Manchester City, you can read about how the two sides reached the final in my previous article here. The final will be between 2 English sides for the 3rd time and for the 2nd time in the last 3 years. This highlights the current strength of English soccer.
For Chelsea it will be their 3rd Champions League final, losing to Manchester United in 2008 before beating Bayern Munich to win the 2012 edition. Manchester City will be playing in their first-ever Champions League final having played in the competition for the first time in 2011-12. It promises to be an enthralling final between two heavyweights of both English and European soccer.
When and Where:
The showpiece game will take place at the Estadio Do Dragao in Porto, with the game kicking off at 3 pm ET on Saturday the 29th of May. The game was originally due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey but the high levels of Covid-19 in the country meant that fans would not have been allowed. English fans were hoping that the final between two of the nation’s biggest clubs would be moved to Wembley, London.
However, the UK government was unwilling to let thousands of UEFA’s stakeholders and sponsors into the country. As such, UEFA decided to prioritize their sponsors rather than fans. They decided that Portugal was a better location for a game between two teams from England. I guess money talks. Regardless of the location, it should be a special game.
Chelsea has been sensational since Thomas Tuchel took over in January but have stumbled a little bit in recent weeks. The blues lost the FA Cup final to Leicester City before losing to Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season. Before the FA Cup final, Tuchel’s side also lost to Arsenal. This means that they have lost 3 of their last 4 games in all competitions. However, the Champions league final is a one off and like any soccer game, anything really can happen.
Since the start of 2021, Manchester City has been in imperious form. They have only lost 5 games in all competitions this year. This shows how strong their form has been since January. However, similar to Chelsea, they have experienced a blip of sorts recently. Guardiola’s side have actually lost 2 of their last 4 games. By their standards, this is certainly a dip in form. Crucially, 2 of City’s 5 defeats this year have been at the hands of Saturday’s opponents. Could this be a sign of things to come?
Past European Success:
Chelsea has had much more success in Europe compared to their Manchester rivals. The Stamford Bridge side has won 1 Champions League and 2 Europa Leagues. All three of these titles have come in the last 9 years.
In comparison, Manchester City has never won either of Europe’s top two competitions. Prior to this year, the closest City had got was a Champions League semi-final appearance in 2016 where they lost out to Real Madrid. Reaching the final this year provides great improvement for City. However, with the form they have been in, they will not be satisfied with a second-place finish.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City undoubtedly go into the final as heavy favorites. The soccer they have played this season has been of the highest quality. If they do win it, then they will certainly have earned it. With attackers such as Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, and Raheem Sterling, it will be a challenge for Chelsea to stop them.
My one doubt with City is how big this game is for them. They have been trying to win the Champions League for years. Having finally reached the final, the pressure will be extreme. The fact that Chelsea has been there and won the European finals in recent years will help them massively.
Adding to this, Chelsea appear to have the more experienced players such as Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kanté, Olivier Giroud, Mateo Kovacic and Antonio Rudiger. All of these players have won plenty of trophies and played in the biggest games before.
This experience will ensure that it is a very close game. I have said in previous articles that I think Manchester City will lose in the final and so I am going to stick with that. I believe that Thomas Tuchel will lead Chelsea to a famous Champions League title.